Being a parent is really a scary process. You question every decision, wondering if your actions will scar your child and one day send them running to a therapist for safety. As the responsible party you are filled with regret when something does go wrong. Much like the parents in the movie Jurassic World. Spoiler Alert! They send the kids off to be with their childless aunt so they can make the final arrangements for a divorce. Oh and I forgot to mention, they send them to a park on a small isolated jungle island with dinosaurs. What could possibly go wrong there?!?
Well, I know the story because we recently saw Jurassic World, which was one of those actions as a parent you worry about. Is it going to be scary, is it going to cause nightmares and sleepless nights? And I do mean sleepless for you. But, my six year-old son loved it. He wasn’t scared and watched the movie all the way through. Before we watch any movie I always remind him, “If you see something that scares you, just close your eyes.” That is really the best parenting advice I have and I also use it myself as an adult. Following the movie, the combination of his fascination for not being scared, along with the movie itself, encouraged the conversation about the original Jurassic Park.
In the most abridged version possible, I retold the original movie from the 90s. I remembered the beautiful scenery and the cool Jeeps, and not recalling all of the details of the movie, I talked about the grandfather’s dream and the grandkids who visited him, quickly added that they got attacked by the dinosaurs at the end and reminded him along the way that this was fiction and this place did not actually exist. He wanted to know more, but we couldn’t find the movie on YouTube, so then it was kind dropped. Yes my at-home movie watching habits are still in the pre-Jurassic period.
“You know how I wanted to know about Jurassic Park? Look what I found,” Azul excitedly said while holding on to his new discovery of an old copy of the Michael Crichton book. I forgot I had the book and remembered even less of the book than I did the movie. In his enraptured state, I promised we would start reading the book that evening. We usually we read two books a night, first he reads to me and then I read a chapter or two of a more advanced book to him.
First he read Felix Feels Better, which is a cute book about a hamster-like animal who gets sick and by the end of the story he feels better. And really, by the end you feel better too. Then it was my turn, I began to read and quickly skipped the intro because it was over his head and we wanted to get to the dinosaurs, so I moved on to the Prologue. I had completely forgotten the opening scene was about a kid getting sliced up by a raptor! Even though the title of the Prologue is The Bite Of The Raptor. Who takes these titles literally anyway?
Once we came to a break in the story I looked at my wide-eyed hatchling and asked, “Was that too scary?”
“YES! I’m scared.” He replied in a shaky high-pitched little boy voice, and then, “Will you lay with me?” Oh no, remember the sleepless nights? Here they come. I tried to recover by talking about how sometimes books seem much scarier than movies because of the detail and that it was just fiction and none of it really happened. I had done enough damage for one day, so I just stopped talking.
As l lay there with him, riddled with parental guilt, waiting for the familiar sound of rhythmic breathing and the slight body twitches that indicate sleep, I thought, “What was I thinking? This is therapy material for sure!”
Once I absolutely knew he was asleep I got out of his bed, grabbed the book on the way out of his room and silently returned it to the bookshelf in my bedroom, where it will stay. Maybe we’ll re-explore this book later, maybe one day, but not today, today it’s just too scary.
I have become quite the Stars Wars Geek these days, and like most of the recent changes in my life, I have my five year-old to thank or blame, I’m not sure which.
A long time ago (about three years) in a galaxy far, far away (Gram’s house) …
Azul found her Star Wars DVD collection and was immediately hooked. We started with the 1970’s and 1980’s originals, now recognized as Episodes IV, V, and VI, and then moved on to the entire set of movies.
One by one, Azul brought the movies home and watched them from morning to night. All of them! Over and over! He would wake up at 6:00 a.m., turn on the TV and DVD player, insert the movie and that was how he started his day. My day began at the same time with the blaring Star Wars symphony floating to my bedroom from the living room, it was better than any alarm clock I have ever had. Then after dinner he would pick up where he left off and Star Wars was on again. The Force definitely had a grasp on him and I was okay with it. We talked about the violence and how he felt about it, and like with most things I was impressed by his ability to grasp the concept of sci-fi and the difference between that and reality, so we were good and the movies continued. He knew the character’s names and would quote his favorite lines. He developed a kinship with the “bad guys” and had a striking resemblance to the young Anakin Skywalker from The Phantom Menace.
But the movies were only a gateway drug; we moved on to Legos and action figures, books and sticker books, and every character dictionary and encyclopedia we could find. The day he received a Light Saber from his Auntie Mari and Uncle Roger, he said in amazement, “I never thought I would have my own Light Saber, this is the best day of my life.” Oh, we were in deep. And I truly believe I know more about this topic than any I studied in grad school and have also, “Learned to talk like Yoda, I have!”
Finally, after months of being into our Star Wars way of life, I realized the Empire must be stopped!
The moment of enlightenment came the morning I woke up from probably the third night in a row of dreaming of Attack of the Clones fighting side by side with Queen Amidala. Now, I love Natalie Portman and Amidala, but once she entered my unconscious dream state, I was done. No more Star Wars for a while, I had had enough. There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing and we had peaked.
The break was a small one and Star Wars is still a constant in our lives, and our knowledge continues to grow, only now it is applied with some moderation.
So, in celebration of this weekend, and to my fellow Star Wars Geeks and all others, May the Fourth be With You!
p.s. Yes, in all our geekdom, we will also be celebrating The Revenge of The Sixth as well.